During my notes for the fourth draft of a horror feature i’m writing I realised that one of the major problems of the final act was that some of the characters who had a role at the beginning of the film where lacking anything to really do at the end. They where simply falling off the page with no proper completion of their relevance or arcs.
This wasn’t always the case so maybe not the greatest oversight (albeit one I should have avoided) as there was development for everyone in the first few drafts but in the process of streamlining the script and getting it closer to its final state certain arcs had been cut. What remained where characters that where more functions then relevant by themselves.
In looking at what I needed both from the characters and the stories I began to realises that I could merge certain characters. Not something I’d ever done before. It obviously required a fair bit of tweaking still as they where different people but if anything it made the characters stronger. Combing certain qualities made the characters more complicated and opened up other ideas and scenarios that I hadn’t previously thought of. Suddenly little things in the script that had always bugged me had a solution due to the behaviour of these new merged characters.
I can’t really say it’s a way that I look to work, or would again, but for such a problem script It seems i’ve stumbled upon a solution due to other problems in different areas. Looking forward to the fourth draft everything seems to be falling into place with these changes and fires have been put out.
Never ceases to amaze me how scripts can fall apart and come together by single threads being pulled or woven.
So while reading back the first draft of my latest horror feature I noticed that there isn’t really any horror until 40 pages in. Normally I open with some horror and then build to the horror of the story, or I have little glimpses of it before it’s unleashed, but this story doesn’t really set up for that. It’s more a character drama with violences before the horror kicks in and the genre somewhat twists.
The question i’m asking myself, and by the extension of this blog everyone else is, is this acceptable? Should you have to wait 40 minutes for the horror to start in a horror film? And I don’t mean fully start, I mean for the signs it’s a horror story to begin. Like I said I normally at least tease the horror but that doesn’t really work with this idea. There isn’t a single scene i’d consider a horror scene until page 42.
Personally I think if I was watching a horror film and the story and characters got me I wouldn’t notice that the horror hasn’t kicked in. But i’d fully understand the other way of looking at it and saying this is a horror film, show me the horror.
Would I wait 40 minutes for the first piece of action in an action film? Or for the first signs of disaster in a disaster film. Monster movies often withhold the monster but normally you at least get a teaser at the beginning.
That said I remember watching Haeundae (Tidal Wave) and loving the fact that the disaster didn’t start until nearly an hour and a half into the movie if memory serves correct. I cared so much about the character by then that it really mattered.
My script is still in a very early stage so it might change, but it’s definitely a different approach to what I normally take and one that wasn’t done on purpose. Simply didn’t occur to me when writing the first draft that it worked that way as I was to busy enjoying the set-up.
I wonder how many films I’ve watched and this has been the case and I simply haven’t noticed. Reckon with good story telling it could be a lot. I love horror and all the conventions that come with it but I always want to care about the characters that I see going through hell in these films and maybe at times a little more set up wouldn’t hurt.
So what do you think? Is 40 minutes to long for a horror film to have no horror. By that point does it feel like From Dusk to Dawn and that you’ve just switched genres? Or should it not matter if the story is working?
Over the space of the last month I’ve been working on setting up a YouTube channel with a friend where we will be reviewing movies both from Asia and the west. The aim is to do reviews, features and extra content eventually like short films or web shows and promote a lot of Asian cinema that we love.
The main reason for the channel is our love of movies and the fact that we spend a vast majority of our time taking about, and watching, films anyway that it seemed like a good idea to actually record some of these conversations. Plenty agreed and encouraged and now I can’t wait to get it all started. Going to be a blast.
A side reason for making this channel however is more relevant to my writing and where I am in my career at this point. It gets me used to talking. Gets me away from the computer and talking about films which can only be good for my pitching. It might be other peoples films at the moment but a lot of the same skills are there and similar energy levels.
I can see from the early reviews we’ve done that I can bring the excitement and the passion but as i’ve been told by teachers my whole school life, I fidget. I can see it more when i’m in front of the camera and while it’s not to bad it is a little noticeable and something that hopefully I can watch and improve on it over the year.
I think the channel will be good for me for a lot of reasons and am extremely excited by it. But as someone who has work ready to send out into the world and look to build a career on it I know this channel can be positive for my presentations and pitches and thats a big deal in this completive business. Every little helps.
The channel is almost ready to launch, and should be available within the next week but for the moment you can catch us at @Isawthemovieuk both on Twitter and Instagram. Our first feature is on Street fighter (for all of you that remember the film) as we discuss the Van Damme Street Fighter and the Legend of Chun-Li Street Fighter and what we’d do with a reboot of the franchise.